UNDERSTANDING SOCIAL

COMMUNICATION STRATEGIES
AMY GORDON, M.ED.
S E C O N D N AT U R E S O C I A L S K I L L S

Second Nature Social Skills 2015 (c)

TONIGHT, WE WILL LEARN
ABOUT:
• Behavior as Communication

• Implementing a Positive Support Plan

• Social Communication

• Teaching social skills
Second Nature Social Skills 2015 (c)

FOUR TYPES OF BEHAVIOR
• Attention Seeking
• Tangible Seeking

• Escape or avoidance
• Private or Sensory
Second Nature Social Skills 2015 (c)

HOW CAN BEHAVIOR CHANGE?
• What is motivating?

• What is the response?

• What do you want to replace it with?

Second Nature Social Skills 2015 (c)

POSITIVE SUPPORT PLAN
• How to keep the momentum going….

Second Nature Social Skills 2011 (c)

WHAT IS SOCIAL COMMUNICATION?
• Pragmatics

• Perspective Taking

• Social Executive Functioning

Second Nature Social Skills 2015 (c)

PRAGMATICS:
USING LANGUAGE
• Examples are:
1) Conventional Greetings or Closings (hi,
bye)
2) Informing (I’m going to take a bath)
3) Demanding (Go get your backpack)
4) Promising (I’m going to get you a treat)
5) Requesting (I would like a drink please)
www. asha.org

Second Nature Social Skills 2015 (c)

PRAGMATICS:
CHANGING LANGUAGE
• Examples include:
1) Talking differently to your students vs.
a colleague
2) Speaking differently in a school vs. a
football game
3) Giving prior knowledge/background
information to a student that comes in
to the classroom (re-cap) after a lecture
(unfamiliar information)
4) Explaining a situation
www.asha.org
Second Nature Social Skills 2015 (c)

PRAGMATICS:
FOLLOWING THE RULES (HIDDEN)
Conversational and Storytelling (Hidden) Rules:






Reciprocity-equal turn taking
Introducing topics
Staying on topic (topic maintenance)
Rephrasing/Restating a new way when misunderstood
Reading verbal and nonverbal cues (perspective taking)
Personal Space (Proximity to others)
How to use facial expressions and eye contact
www.asha.org

Second Nature Social Skills 2015 (c)

PRAGMATIC CHALLENGES
• Unexpected or off topic remarks
• Telling a story is disorganized (sequencing issues First,
then, next, finally)
• Small variety in language use
• Avoiding conversation
• Occurs across settings and situations
• Seems unexpected for that age (developmentally)
www.asha.org

Second Nature Social Skills 2015 (c)

PRAGMATICS:
PERSPECTIVE TAKING
• Simon Baron-Cohen’s 8 components
1) Thoughts (green, yellow, red)
2) Feelings/Emotions (green, yellow, red)
3) Nonverbal body language (gestures, facial
expressions, tone of voice)
4) Physical State (tired, hungry)
5) Prior knowledge (past experience)
6) Belief systems (opinion vs. fact)
7) Personality (serious, easy going)
8) Situation or Context (in school, restaurant)
• Taking all 8 components and within 0-2 seconds figure the
motives and intentions of self and others
Second Nature Social Skills 2015 (c)

PRAGMATICS:
SOCIAL EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONING

Second Nature Social Skills 2011 (c)

PRAGMATICS:
SOCIAL EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONING
• Newest addition to our brain and it takes many years to
develop (think teenagers and their decision making), but it’s
the steering wheel of our brain functioning.
• Manages higher emotions such as empathy and altruism (The
sub-cortex is emotional memory)
-Empathy: the ability to put yourself in
else’s shoes
-Altruism: helping other’s for the sole benefit of
helping others and you just get to feel good
as a result of it.
Second Nature Social Skills 2011 (c)

PRAGMATICS:
SOCIAL EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONING
• In the frontal lobe of our brain along with the prefrontal lobe (sub-cortex-emotional
memory)
• It’s in charge of our higher order thinking skills-think Bloom’s Taxonomy.
1) Knowledge-Recall or locate information (brainstorm, research, prior knowledgeorganization)
2) Comprehension-Understand learned facts (planning and organizing materials-past, present,
future)
3) Application-Apply what has been learned to new situations (initiating,
staying on task, shifting or transitioning from one thought to the next, time managementpredictions,
multi-tasking, staying on task, controlling your emotions, working under
pressure , using your working memory)
4) Analysis – “Take apart” information to examine different parts (self-monitoring and
problem solving-even within the moment-metacognition)
5) Synthesis – Create or invent something; bring together more than one idea (big
picture processing-seeing the outcome from the beginning)
6) Evaluation – Consider evidence to support conclusions (What happened? What should
happen next time?-What am I doing right now that isn’t working?-Metacognition-reflection)

Second Nature Social Skills 2011 (c)

PRAGMATICS:
SOCIAL EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONING
• Brainstorm, plan, sequence events (time
management-past, present, future), predict, initiate,
apply the information we know, problem solve in
the moment, and evaluate the information for
future use.
• Think about your use of self-talk and self-regulation
during these steps (the inner thoughts you have and
how to control impulses-emotions)
• Task analysis (the steps involved with even simple
tasks)
Second Nature Social Skills 2011 (c)

PRAGMATICS:
SOCIAL EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONING
• How does executive functioning effect our learning?

- Pre-school years: 1 to 2 step directions, do this-not that
(crossing the street, sharing is caring, etc.), prompts with
Assisted Daily Living Skills (ADLs). The impact of the word
“no”

- Kindergarten: 2 to 3 step directions, continuation of above
- Grades 1 to 2: Increasing independence, school rules get

put into practice (raising hand vs. calling out), safety rules are
become expected, homework packets-up to 20 minutes,
money concepts-budgeting, etc.

Second Nature Social Skills 2011 (c)

PRAGMATICS:
SOCIAL EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONING
- Upper Primary (Grades 3-5): future plans (errands,

events and the wait time involved-e.g. going to a friends
house, having a birthday party, etc.), doing chores with
increased independence or on their own(cleaning up
after self, doing dishes), keeping track of belongings,
planning assignments like book reports and completing
them, homework assignments being completed within 1
hour, saving money/budgeting/saving for big ticket
items, knowing what language to keep to themselves,
acting expectedly when alone or around others-being
in control of their actions and emotions, knowing daily
routine

Second Nature Social Skills 2011 (c)

PRAGMATICS:
SOCIAL EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONING
- Middle school Years (Grades 6-8): building upon the

past knowledge and experience (e.g. chores, daily
routine, homework, etc.), planning and following
through on long term assignments, plan daily routine
but also predict the amount of time needed,
categorize what’s business vs. pleasure, listening to
authority figures and being defiant around peers
(e.g. swearing) by being in control of inhibitions (time
and place-think of someone doing things in private
vs. public)

Second Nature Social Skills 2011 (c)

PRAGMATICS: HOW TO TEACH
• Use the Principles of Applied Behavioral Analysis
(ABA) or direct teaching (pre-teach, practice,
review, maintain, generalize), co-teach
• Make the abstract concrete (tell the whys)
• Use preferred interests to make it fun
• Change your point of view
• Use indirect prompts (once the vocabulary has
been established)
• Shift your focus and find the positive
(Dr. Steve Gutstein Relationship Development Intervention)

Second Nature Social Skills 2015 (c)

PRAGMATICS:
LINK IN LISTENING™
Brain to think
About what
the speaker is
saying

Personal Space
in a shared
space, face the
speaker with a
quiet body and
posture

Eyes to look at
the speaker

Link In
Listening

Look at the
bridge of their
nose if makes
me feel better

Listening
ears for the
speaker

Quiet mouth
unless it’s my
turn to talk on
topic

Second Nature Social Skills 2015 (c)

PRAGMATICS:
HOW TO TEACH
• Pre-teach direct instruction
• Teach all the body parts
• Use verbal with gestural prompt (then fade out
verbal and keep gestural/visual)
• Carry over across settings
• Track the amount of times you use it
Second Nature Social Skills 2015 (c)

PRAGMATICS:
CONVO-GRAPHICS™
Convo-Graphics™-Conversation Parts
** before you can begin a conversation, you need to be Linked In**

Greetings
What is a greeting? A greeting is a way to begin a conversation or
acknowledge another person’s presence.
Give different examples of greetings. They can be verbal, nonverbal,
formal, and/or informal. Hint: think about who you are talking to.
Hi, Hello, Good morning/afternoon/evening, Hey, What’s up?, S’up, a
wave, smile, hand shake, a head nod, “pound it” fist/knuckles, shoulder
tap

Small Talk
What is small talk? Small talk is a short, generalized (vague)
conversation that includes topics that are “shared” with other people.
There are generally 2-6 exchanges.
Give different examples of small talk. Hint: think about the time of year
for special events and the situation you are in.
How are you? Look at this weather? Did you hear about the Patriots? Did
you see Avatar? (topics: vacation, food, tv shows, movies, sports, weather,
books, school, work, clothing, haircuts, video games, anime,
family,holidays, etc)

Transitions
What is a transition? A transition is a verbal “warning” to the
conversation partner that the topic is going to change to a new one. It is
a bridge for changing one topic to another topic. Hint: Wait for a pause
in the conversation and acknowledge the last topic spoken before
changing topics.
When does a transition happen in the conversation? When you are done
talking about one topic, but you want to keep talking about other topics.
Examples: by the way, speaking of, that reminds me, hey, that’s cool,
but did you know that I ______, wow, nice, I like ____, I have ___, so,
anyway, etc.

Second Nature Social Skills 2015 (c)

PRAGMATICS:
CONVO-GRAPHICS™
Topics
What is a topic? A topic is something that you are talking about during a
conversation. It is the subject that the conversational partners are
talking about during the conversation.
Give different examples of topics in conversations.
Hint: think about the small talk topics: sports, classes, games, making
plans to get together, vacation, holidays, family, friends, sports,
drama/theater, books, toys, errands, weather, stores, clothing,
pets/animals, travelling, different places, current events, TV shows,
movies, technology, video games, etc.

“Fillers”
What are “fillers?” Fillers are sounds or gestures you make to the
speaker to know that you are thinking about what they are saying. You
do not make whole words when you use these “fillers.” Hint: you can use
fillers, but use words too so the speaker knows you are interested the
conversation.
When would you put “fillers” in a conversation? When you are listening
to a speaker and want to give quick clue that you are listening and want
the speaker to continue talking. Give examples of conversation fillers: uhhuh, hmm, uh-uh, mmmm, ah, oh, eeeeek, ugh, argh, grrr, nah, shaking,
nodding of your head, eyes widening, mouth opening, hand/arm gestures,
etc.

Closing
What is a closing? A closing is a way to end the conversation. Hint: think
about the wh? Questions: when (time elapsed), where (are you going
somewhere else/situation), what (is the other person showing clues they
need to stop talking),and why (it’s time to move on to something else).
How many different types of closings to a conversation are there? They can
be verbal, nonverbal, formal, and/or informal. Hint: think about who
you saying good-bye to: Bye, Good-bye, Nice to have met you, Nice to see
you again, Good evening, Later, See ya, Take care, a wave, a handshake, a
head nod, “pound it” fist/knuckles, shoulder tap, See you soon, etc.

Second Nature Social Skills 2015 (c)

PRAGMATICS:
HOW TO TEACH
• Pre-teach the conversation parts
• Be explicit
• Be detailed (give as many different choices
(people, places)
• Skits/Video mapping

Second Nature Social Skills 2015 (c)

PRAGMATICS:
FEELINGS/THOUGHTS
• Green: Keep them GOing!
• Yellow: Slow down to think!
• Red: Stop and think!

Second Nature Social Skills 2015 (c)

PRAGMATICS:
GREEN, YELLOW, AND RED
Green Thoughts

Happy
Cheerful
Excited
Pleased
Joyful
Compassionate
Delighted
Kind
Proud
Calm
Relaxed/At ease/Comfortable
Admired
Interested
Agreeable
Appreciated
Confident
Encouraged/Brave
Flexible
Forgiving

Yellow Thoughts

Confused
Guilty
Sad
Nervous
Insecure
Lonely
Embarrassed
Offended
Mocked/Teased
Pressured
Insulted
Resentful
Stereotyped
Worthless
Ignored
Humiliated
Misunderstood
Discouraged
Anxious

Red Thoughts

Scared
Mad
Angry
Frightened
Terrified
Threatened/Bullied
Unsafe
Furious
Frustrated
Failure
Depressed
Overstressed
Intimidated
Voiceless/Not feeling heard
Violated
Untrusting
Enraged
Upset
Furious

Second Nature Social Skills 2015 (c)

PRAGMATICS:
HOW TO TEACH
How to Change Feelings and Thoughts

Second Nature Social Skills 2011©

Second Nature Social Skills 2015 (c)

PRAGMATICS:
HOW TO TEACH
• Give examples of different situations
• Ask students how they would feel in that situation
• Predict how another person would feel

• Predict thoughts after emotions
• Use indirect prompts

Second Nature Social Skills 2015 (c)

PRAGMATICS:
HOW TO TEACH

Second Nature Social Skills 2015 (c)

PRAGMATICS:
EXPECTED AND UNEXPECTED
• Expected:
- Match bodies, words, tone/volume of voice
- People have green feelings/thoughts when
someone is being expected
- Pre-teach social expectations (e.g. Classroom
rules/contract)

Second Nature Social Skills 2015 (c)

PRAGMATICS:
EXPECTED AND UNEXPECTED
• Unexpected:

- Different bodies, words, tone/volume of voice

- People have yellow or red feelings/thoughts when
someone is being expected
- Avoid the sub-cortex thinking and remain on the frontal
lobe
- Indirect/Declarative Statement:
1) I see most of my friends sitting with a
quiet voice.
2) Hmm, I hear noise…..
3) How can we be expected?

Second Nature Social Skills 2015 (c)

PRAGMATICS:
SECOND THOUGHT™ BUBBLE
Is it a Talk Bubble or a Second Thought™ Bubble?

1.

1.

2.

2.

3.

3.

4.

4.

5.

5.

*6.

*6.

* Come up with your own talk and Second Thought™
bubbles.

Second Nature Social Skills 2015 (c)

PRAGMATICS:
HOW TO TEACH
• Pre-teach direct instruction
• Teach the vocabulary and prompts
• Use verbal with gestural prompt (then fade out
verbal and keep gestural/visual)
• Carry over across settings
• Track the amount of times you use it
Second Nature Social Skills 2015 (c)

PRAGMATICS:
THE COVER UP™
The Cover Up™

Use the Cover up™

all your little thoughts for the big thought of staying on topic and

being expected!

Steps of the Cover Up™:
1. Make sure you “link in”.
2. Try your best to use the same big thought (on topic thought) to “cover up” the little
thoughts you have. The little thoughts are trying to distract your brain! (Self-talk,
pretend, lock away small thoughts in a safe, etc.)
3. Ask Questions, make comments, pay compliments, even if you’re not interested.
4. Acknowledge what someone is saying before changing the topic.
5. Keep the little thoughts unnoticed to the listener (be careful not to “blurt” bubble
thoughts out loud – keep them as inside thoughts!)

Second Nature Social Skills 2015 (c)

PRAGMATICS:
HOW TO TEACH
• Pre-teach students how we all have thoughts in our
head all day long
• Pre-teach expected vs. unexpected
• Pre-teach staying on topic (Link in Listening™,
convo-graphics™)
• Show them the gestural prompt that accompanies
the Cover Up™ to use anywhere at any time!
Sweeping your forefinger across your forehead is
the prompt.
• Have the students create their own reminders of
how to make the big thought stay in their mind over
the little thoughts.
Second Nature Social Skills 2015 (c)

PRAGMATICS:
SITUATION RADAR™
• Green Problems: Let it GO! Let it slide!
• Yellow Problems: Slow down to think! Use a fix it
• Red Problems: Emergency! I need HELP!!

See Attached for Situation Radar

Second Nature Social Skills 2015 (c)

PRAGMATICS:
HOW TO TEACH
• Validate students feelings
(It feels like a red problem, but it’s in the
yellow zone)
( While you’re a learner, it will feel like a
yellow problem, but eventually it will be
green).
• Pre-teach coping strategies and let the students create
a toolkit
• Praise for identifying the problem and applying the
coping skill
• Use indirect prompts (Hmm, if it’s a green problem… or
How do we act with a green problem?
Second Nature Social Skills 2015 (c)

PRAGMATICS:
THE FIX ITS ™
The FIX ITS ™

What happened?

How do I feel?
frustrated
worried

happy
annoyed

mad

bored

How do they feel?
frustrated
worried

proud

happy

annoyed
mad

bored

calm

nervous
sad

disappointed

calm

nervous

What color are my thoughts?

What color are their thoughts?

excited

angry

proud

sad

relaxed

relaxed

excited

disappointed
angry

green

green

yellow

yellow

Second Nature Social Skills 2015 (c)

red

red

PRAGMATICS:
THE FIX ITS™
Let’s fix it #1:
How can I fix it?

How does this “Fix it”
make me feel?
happy

proud

relaxed

What Color are My
Thoughts?

calm

excited

frustrated

green

annoyed
yellow

nervous

disappointed

worried

mad

sad

bored

angry

How do I think this Fix It
will make them feel?
happy

proud

relaxed

worried
sad

What Color are Their
Thoughts?

calm
green

excited

frustrated
nervous

red

annoyed

yellow

disappointed
mad

bored

angry

Second Nature Social Skills 2015 (c)

red

PRAGMATICS:
THE FIX ITS ™
Problem:
(Dilemma)
1.
Plan A/Solution 1:

Predictions to consider:

a.
b.
c.
2.

Plan B/Solution 2:

Predictions to consider:

a.
b.
c.
3.

Plan C/Solution 3:

Predictions to consider:

a.
b.
c.
4.

Plan D/Solution 4:

Predictions to consider:

a.
b.
c.
Main Perspectives

Secondary Perspectives

Perspectives to
Consider:

Second Nature Social Skills 2015 (c)

PRAGMATICS:
HOW TO TEACH
• The following steps should be considered while trying to solve a
problem:
- Slow down to think or Stop to think.
- Identify the problem.
- Think of your own perspective-(feeling and thoughts) and
anyone else that is directly (main) or indirectly (secondary)
involved with the problem.
- Think of multiple solutions.
- Analyze and predict the outcome.
- Choose one solution.
- Re-assess the situation and apply and analyze the solutions
and feelings.
Second Nature Social Skills 2015 (c)

PRAGMATICS:
PLUG IN PLANNING™
Plug in Planning™
Insert
Picture of
Activity
Here

Activity:

When:

Who:

Where:

What:

How:

Expectations:

Second Nature Social Skills 2015 (c)

PRAGMATICS:
HOW TO TEACH
• Executive Functioning:
- Time-Abstract Concept
- Future Planning
- Steps/Task Analysis of Planning

Second Nature Social Skills 2015 (c)

PRAGMATICS:
HOW TO TEACH
• Start with the time
- how much time do you have?
- travel time?
- how long is a particular activity?
• Think about who
- activity
-persuasion
- negotiation
- compromise (flexible thinker!)
Second Nature Social Skills 2015 (c)

PRAGMATICS:
IT TAKES A VILLAGE…
USE SPECIAL INTERESTS TO HELP…..
• Pokémon
• Minecraft

• Legos
• Terraria

Second Nature Social Skills 2015 (c)

PRAGMATICS:
IT TAKES A VILLAGE…..
• Michelle Garcia-Winner, M.S. CCC-SLP
(socialthinking.com)
• Dr. Ross Greene (livesinthebalance.org)
• Sarah Ward, M.S. CCC-SLP
(executivefunctiontherapy.com)
• Jessica Minahan, M.Ed., BCBA

Second Nature Social Skills 2015 (c)

QUESTIONS?
• Second Nature Social Skills
15 Main St. Ext. Unit 7
Plymouth, MA 02360
508.747.2663
Amy Gordon, M.Ed.

Second Nature Social Skills 2015 (c)